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Should you jailbreak an iPhone: Is jailbreaking good for an iPhone or iPad? Is jailbreaking safe? The pros and cons of iOS jailbreaking

Rob Mead-Green | Sept. 7, 2015
For millions of happy users all over the world, the iPhone is fantastic just as it is. It's beautiful, elegant and easy to use, and there are thousands upon thousands of apps and oodles of content for them to choose on the App Store.

Investigating the legality of jailbreaking in the UK, sometime Macworld contributor Duncan Geere concludes:

"...while the matter can't be totally settled until there's a test case - something Apple has long avoided - [University of Edinburgh law lecturer Andres] Guadamuz says he'd be very surprised if a hacker went down for jailbreaking an iPhone. 'Although you might be breaking Apple's terms and conditions and voiding your warranty, I just can't see how a judge would rule against it.'"

Is it safe to jailbreak an iPhone?

While your jailbroken iPhone isn't going to blow up in your hand - or break the whole internet - it may not work exactly the way you'd like.

We cannot wholeheartedly recommend jailbreaking, and as a rule we wouldn't do it to our own phones. Jailbreaking an iPhone is the sort of thing done by tinkerers.

Put aside the moral arguments about who owns what (and who should pay for what) and you're left with the practical advantages of jailbreaking - being able to install blocked software and replace key services - with the disadvantages of jailbreaking - having a less secure system that's more error-prone.

Is jailbreaking secure? Jailbreaking and malware

If you want to become a jailbreaker, go for it. But you should remember that life with your more customisable device is not necessarily going to be as carefree as you might think. You should always be on the alert for malware attacks.

Even when things seems to working smoothly, it's important to be security-conscious. Some jailbreak tweaks may feature backdoors that let hackers access your personal details.

This is precisely what happened in August 2015, when it emerged that more than 225,000 jailbreakers' iCloud login information was stolen as a result of "built-in backdoors" in jailbreak tweaks.

Security specialist Palo Alto Networks reported the breach, which was the result of a piece of malware that it refers to as KeyRaider and was instigated by hackers in China. (Some of the victims were also Chinese, but affected users were located in 18 countries all told.) The firm discovered the hacked user data on the black market, where it was being downloaded and used to make fraudulent in-app purchases.

The firm explains:

"The malware hooks system processes through MobileSubstrate, and steals Apple account usernames, passwords and device GUID by intercepting iTunes traffic on the device. KeyRaider steals Apple push notification service certificates and private keys, steals and shares App Store purchasing information, and disables local and remote unlocking functionalities on iPhones and iPads.

"KeyRaider has successfully stolen over 225,000 valid Apple accounts and thousands of certificates, private keys, and purchasing receipts. The malware uploads stolen data to its command and control (C2) server, which itself contains vulnerabilities that expose user information."

 

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